Few consumers realize they can ditch their monopolistic service providers in favor of local, independent telecoms that often offer similar services at competitive rates. These smaller outfits depend on service, not size, as reader Sharpstick recently discovered:
In the Charleston SC area we are fortunate to have local a internet / phone / cable provider called Knology that has made customer service an art form.
Over the last few weeks I have been reconfiguring my home network and have contacted their customer support several times to change my settings, each time I was greeted by a competent employee who handled my request with ease. I finally settled on using an Apple AirPort Extreme and placed one final call to set it all up.
Now, because I am a lifelong Mac user I expected to hear “What is a Mac?” or “We don’t support Apple products.” Instead the customer service rep said it wasn’t a problem and even shared some geeked out fact about the router that I didn’t know. He made the changes needed to the account, I didn’t even have to touch my keyboard or mouse. At the end of the call he offered to have a technician follow up with a call in an hour to make sure it was working. One hour later the technician called while I was happily surfing the web over my new wireless connection.
An amusing postscript to this story. Right after I had finished setting up the connection, an AT&T salesman comes to my door and I was able to give him an ear full of what I thought of his illegal wiretapping company. It was like icing on the cake. : )
Local providers aren’t always able to provide the same bundles as entrenched providers, but what they lack in services, they make up for in excellent customer service.
In New York, customers tired of Time Warner, Verizon, and Cablevision can look to independent DSL providers like Bway.net. Frustrated residents of other cities can use DSLReports.com to track down their own local alternatives.